AuthorDavid Gratzer

Reading of the Week: Less & Less – Psychiatrists & Psychotherapy; Also, Transgender Individuals & Care (Psych Services) and Digital Mental Health (ANZJP)

From the Editor

“For much of the 20th century, psychotherapy was viewed as synonymous with psychiatry and was the primary treatment modality employed by outpatient psychiatrists.” 

Daniel Tadmon and Dr. Mark Olfson (both of Columbia University) observe this in a new paper. But times have changed; has the practice of psychiatry moved away from psychotherapy?

This week, there are three selections. The first is a new paper from The American Journal of Psychiatry that looks at psychotherapy provided by US psychiatrists. Drawing on decades of data, Tadmon and Olfson find: “While a small group of psychiatrists (11% – 15%) continued to provide psychotherapy in all patient visits, in the 2010s, about half of psychiatrists did not provide psychotherapy at all, and those who provided psychotherapy in some patient visits came to do so more and more rarely.” We consider the paper and its implications.

Sorry Freud: most psychiatrists don’t practice psychotherapy

In the second selection, Dr. June Sing Hong Lam and his co-authors consider the mental health experiences of transgender individuals. In a Psychiatric Services paper, they draw on administrative databases focusing on both ED visits and hospitalizations. They conclude: “This study found that transgender individuals presenting for acute mental health care were more likely to experience marginalization than cisgender individuals and to present to acute care with different diagnostic patterns.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Aswin Ratheesh and Mario Alvarez-Jimenez (both of the University of Melbourne) consider digital mental health and the post-pandemic world. In the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, they write about various problems (for instance, with digital privacy). Still, they see much potential: “Effective digital tools, especially when blended and responsive can radically improve the availability of mental health care in our corner of resource-rich, yet manpower-poor world.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Better with Time? The New JAMA Paper on Stigma; Also, Dr. Steuber on Real Doctors – and Real Stigma (Academic Psych)

From the Editor

“To say that I didn’t know my great-uncle, Wolfe Levine, would understate things. I didn’t even know of such an uncle, brother of my mother’s father (a grandfather with whom I was close). In retrospect, it’s clear that my great-uncle was simply unmentionable.” In a long essay, writer Howard Husock notes that his great uncle, who suffered from mental illness, was never mentioned.

Society’s view of mental illness has changed much in recent years (good), but some stigma still exists (not so good). How have the public’s views shifted over time?

In our first selection, drawing from JAMA Network Open, we look at a new paper by Bernice A. Pescosolido (of Indiana University) and her co-authors. Reviewing attitudes and beliefs over 22 years, they find that: “this survey study found the first evidence of significant decreases in public stigma toward depression.” That said, not all the results are encouraging. We look at the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, Dr. Elizabeth R. Steuber (of Johns Hopkins University) writes about the stigma faced by those in mental health care. Dr. Steuber, who is a resident of psychiatry, discusses the comments of a patient. She contemplates her work and the potential to change ongoing stigma: “I am hopeful that by leading through example on the medical floors, psychiatry trainees will continue to reshape how the field is seen by society at-large, even if it is only one patient at a time.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: The Best of 2021

From the Editor

Welcome 2022.

It’s a Reading of the Week tradition that we begin the New Year by reviewing the best of the past year; so, this week, we look back at 2021.

2020 to 2021

As with past annual reviews, I’ve organized papers into different categories – though there is one common thread: all the papers are clinically relevant and practical. And, yes, there is a person of the year. Spoiler alert: he was fond of bow ties and thinking outside the box.

And an observation about 2021: the quality of scholarship was very high. I’ve picked ten papers – but it would have been possible to pick scores more. Psychiatry continues to grow more sophisticated with each passing year.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Cannabis & Cannabinoids in Psychiatry – the New AJP Paper; Also, Dr. Jillian Horton on Her Burnout & Recovery (QT)

From the Editor

It’s popular – but is it actually helpful?

With legalization, cannabis is readily available. Not surprisingly, our patients are increasingly trying it. But what’s the latest evidence? In the first selection, we consider a new paper that was just published by The American Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Kevin P. Hill (of Harvard University) and his co-authors review almost 850 papers and comment on everything from the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis to clinician guidance. “There is little data indicating that cannabinoids are helpful in treating psychiatric illness, while there is considerable evidence that there is potential for harm in vulnerable populations such as adolescents and those with psychotic disorders.” We consider the big paper and its clinical implications.

marijuana_cannabis_plant

In this week’s second selection, we mull physicians and burnout. Dr. Jillian Horton (of the University of Manitoba) joins me for a Quick Takes podcast interview. We discuss burnout, mindfulness, and recovery. She comments on her own burnout: “I would get home at the end of my long shifts on the wards, and I would have nothing left. Nothing left for myself, nothing left for my spouse, nothing left for my children.”

Please note that there will be no Readings for the next two weeks. We will return in early January with the best of 2021.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Can We Prevent Depression in Older Adults? The New JAMA Psych Paper; Also, Homeless Youth and Mental Health (CJP)

From the Editor

It’s disabling and difficult to treat.

Can we prevent depression in older adults? Prevention is, of course, an important goal for any psychiatric disorder, reducing distress and health care costs. And the morbidity of major depressive disorder is great. A patient recently commented on his depressive episode: “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

Dr. Michael R. Irwin (of the University of California, Los Angeles) and his co-authors offer interesting data in a new JAMA Psychiatry paper. Focused on elderly adults with insomnia, they provided a form of CBT in an RCT. They find: “In this trial of older adults without depression but with insomnia disorder, delivery of CBT-I prevented incident and recurrent major depressive disorder by more than 50% compared with SET, an active comparator.” We review this big paper and its clinical implications.

unknownLess time with depression, more time for dancing

In the other selection, we consider homeless youth. In a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry paper, Sean A. Kidd (of the University of Toronto) et al. draw on national survey data. “Youth homelessness is a wicked social problem with variable definitions, multiple determinants, corollaries, and outcomes.” They note the connection to sexual violence and make policy recommendations.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Lithium – Anti-Suicidal Qualities? Also, Dr. Tim Graham on His Illness & Recovery (CMAJ)

From the Editor

Our patients complain about the hand tremor. Some feel fatigued when they take this medication. And toxicity is always a risk.

Lithium, in other words, is tough to work with – the Callas or Pavarotti of psychotropic medications, if you will. And yet, it’s arguably the best mood stabilizer, helping people with bipolar get back their lives. Some have gone so far as to claim that all of us should take a little lithium.

Among the purported benefits of lithium: anti-suicidal effects. But does this medication really help our suicidal patients? In a new paper, Dr. Ira R. Katz (of the University of Pennsylvania) and his co-authors ask this question, armed with an impressive dataset. In a JAMA Psychiatry paper, they report the findings of a double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. “The addition of lithium to usual Veterans Affairs mental health care did not reduce the incidence of suicide-related events in veterans with major depression or bipolar disorders who experienced a recent suicide event.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

photo-1567693528052-e213227086bbLithium: the psychotropic that’s as old as the earth

In the second selection, Dr. Tim Graham (of the University of Alberta) writes about his training and work as an ED physician, and his burnout. In a raw, highly personal essay for CMAJ, he speaks about his suicidal thoughts – and the decision to get help. He writes: “If you die tomorrow, your employer will replace you, but your loved ones cannot.” Dr. Graham also offers some practical suggestions for staying well.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Plant-based Medicines – What’s the Evidence? Also, Wearables, New Technologies & Mental Health Care (Quick Takes)

From the Editor

Kava. Ginkgo. St John’s wort.

These plant-based medicines (or phytoceuticals) have gained popularity in recent years. Patients ask about them; in some pharmacies, they are now sold prominently and side by side with other products; celebrities talk up their helpfulness. Plant-based medicines are having a moment.

But what’s the evidence? In the first selection, Jerome Sarris (of the Western Sydney University) and his co-authors consider phytoceuticals for psychiatric disorders in a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry paper. They draw on meta-analyses of RCTs reporting on the efficacy and effectiveness of these medicines. What did they find? “This ‘meta-synthesis’ of the data from 9 meta-analyses showed positive findings for a variety of plant-based medicines in a range of psychiatric disorders, albeit limited by the quality of source data.” We consider the big paper and its clinical implications.

6900b40570a828ff1775d282eb2605e6St. John’s wort – pretty flower, but evidenced?

In this week’s second selection, we look at wearables and new technologies. Dr. John Torous (of Harvard University) joins me for a Quick Takes podcast interview. We discuss their potential for mental health care including how data captured on devices (especially data related to sleep and exercise) can potentially improve care – and overall health. “Could we be using the step count on a patient’s phone for mental health? Could we transform GPS into something like studying green space to learn about its impact on mental health?” And, yes, we do talk about Star Wars.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Clozapine Prescribing & Demographics; Also, HBR on Equity in Telemedicine, and Eichler on Her Uncle & His Disappearances

From the Editor

Is clozapine prescribing effected by demographics?

In the first selection, from Psychiatric Services, Natalie Bareis (of Columbia University) and her co-authors consider medication prescriptions for those with psychotic disorders, drawing on US Medicaid data. “Our results indicate significant variation across states and among racial-ethnic groups in prescription patterns of six types of psychotropic medications, even after we had adjusted for multiple patient factors.” Indeed, they find that clozapine is much more commonly prescribed for those who are White. We consider the paper and its implications.

unknownClozapine: a simple molecule but complicated availability in the US?

In the second selection, Dr. Jonathan Rogg (of the University of Texas) and his co-authors consider equity and telemedicine. In a paper for the Harvard Business Review, they describe the services offered in a low-income area of Texas, and the lessons learned. “The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a rapid evolution in technology with the potential to help the most disadvantaged patients. Our experience during the pandemic has demonstrated that telemedicine can overcome access-related challenges faced by indigent populations. By allowing them to access care in their homes or even their jobs, it can help them address health issues expeditiously with minimal disruption to their lives.”

Finally, in the third selection from The Globe and Mail, writer Leah Eichler writes about her uncle, who probably had an undiagnosed mental illness. She writes about his disappearances and erratic behaviour. “We like to believe our relationships are solid, that love is somehow inextricably linked to permanence. Missing our loved ones, if anything, highlights how impermanent even our closest relationships can be.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Should Patients Quit Antidepressants? The New NEJM Paper; Also, the NYT Obit on Dr. Paula Clayton

From the Editor

“Can I stop my antidepressants now?”

Patients often ask that question after feeling better. Studies have looked at relapse for people with depression who go off their medications, of course, but overwhelmingly such work has focused on patients recruited from specialty care (who are, perhaps, more ill).

In the first selection, we consider a new paper from The New England Journal of Medicine by Gemma Lewis (of University College) et al. The patients have been recruited from English family practices. The study is well designed and thoughtful, adding nicely to the literature. The chief finding? “Those who were assigned to stop their medication had a higher risk of relapse of depression by 52 weeks than those who were assigned to maintain their current therapy.” We consider the big paper and its clinical implications.

7_medication-spilling_v2-1-3-1024x819

In the second selection, drawing from the pages of The New York Times, reporter Clay Risen writes about the life of Dr. Paula J. Clayton. This psychiatrist, who passed in September, was an accomplished researcher: “Dr. Clayton was part of a generation of clinical psychiatrists who, in the decades after World War II, revolutionized their field by applying medical rigor to the diagnosis of mental illness.” In later years, she was a strong advocate for those with mental illness.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Vaccinations & Mental Disorders; Also, Nudging Patients (Psych Services)

From the Editor

By international standards, we are doing well. As a percentage of the population, more Canadians are doubly vaccinated than people in many other nations.

But let’s not be too pleased. Some Canadians haven’t received both shots – or even one. As is often the case with public health efforts (think smoking cessation and flu shots), those with mental disorders are harder to reach than the general population.

This week, there are two selections. In the first, Noel T. Brewer (of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and Neetu Abad (of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) discuss ways that we can boost the rate of vaccination of those with mental health problems in a new JAMA Psychiatry paper. They recognize the unique challenges of reaching this population – and the clear opportunities for mental health professionals. “Although mental health is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about vaccination, strategic use of mental health professionals’ expertise could provide new opportunities to encourage COVID-19 vaccination.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

medical-syringes-and-needles

In the second selection, also on the theme of nudging our patients to get better outcomes, Gabriela K. Khazanov (of Veterans Affairs) and her co-authors consider using behavioural economics. In this Psychiatric Services paper, they note that Veterans Affairs (VA) “has successfully implemented a financial incentive program aimed at improving psychiatric treatment engagement…”

DG
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